Tyler Peddle of Antigonish, N.S. spent four or five hours “holding his breath” while he sat inside Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena — anxiously hoping to hear his name selected during this year’s NHL Draft — as a once-packed room slowly began to clear out on Thursday.
As time dragged on, Peddle admitted he began to experience some doubts as the draft progressed into the last round.
“I did think it was a possibility … that I would slip through the draft,” he said on Friday. “But you can’t react because you don’t know what will happen.”
It wasn’t until the very last call of the draft — in Round 7 — that his patience paid off.
“It was the best moment of my life,” he said.
“For the next hour, I think I was letting the biggest exhales out ever.”
The 18-year-old, who spent his last two seasons with the Drummondville Voltigeurs in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, was selected by the Columbus Blue Jackets with the 224th overall pick.
When reminiscing on when he first heard his name announced, he said he “kind of blacked out.”
“I almost didn’t hear my name, I just heard my family screaming and I just figured that was me,” he said.
Peddle, who spent his younger years playing with the Antigonish Bulldogs, didn’t travel all the way from the northern Nova Scotia town to “Music City” alone. He had an entourage of about a dozen family members patiently waiting by his side.
As names were called and crowds began to disperse, his family stayed and held onto hope despite time running out.
“I had my parents, my little brother, my aunts and uncles from both sides, my grandparents, and some cousins,” he continued. “Just having your family to celebrate that with you is something I’ll never forget. It’s a really special moment for me.”
Following the welcome news, Peddle celebrated by spending time with his travelling family members and some players who were also selected in Thursday night’s draft.
When asked how his hometown friends have reacted since hearing about his recruitment into the highest level of professional hockey, Peddle said his “phone’s been blowing up”.
“You think of having that dream since you started playing. You dedicate your whole life towards it … everything you do is for this,” he said.
The 6-foot-1 winger, who’s known for his physicality and ability to find the back of the net, picked up 24 goals and 17 assists with his Quebec side this season.
The newly-drafted player, a pick Columbus acquired in a last-minute trade with the Vegas Golden Knights, said now that he’s been granted a chance, the rest is in his hands.
“I didn’t give up and it paid off,” said Peddle, the only Nova Scotian taken in Nashville. “I’m really speechless and I really have been for the last day, it feels like a dream.”
Peddle will now head out Friday evening to start training alongside other prospects selected by the Blue Jackets during a development camp in Columbus.
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